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Frat Flu Vs. COVID-19: What’s The Difference?

Contracting the frat flu is kind of a rite of passage in college. After a long weekend of partying (not to mention the impact of planets in retrograde, bestie), it's natural to be under the weather. However, it's important to remember that we're still in the midst of a global pandemic, and what you might think is just an innocent case of the frat flu could actually be something much worse: COVID-19.

Now, I don't want you to flip out: just because you have a sore throat and a stuffy nose doesn't mean that you have COVID. Your sore throat could be because you were screaming along to "Mr. Brightside" all night, and your stuffy nose could be a side effect of a musty frat basement. But in the day and age of COVID-19, it's always better to be safe, rather than sorry. Remember: not only are immunocompromised folks more susceptible to intense COVID-19 symptoms, other illnesses, like frat flu, can impact them differently. Illnesses — no matter their severity — affect everyone differently!

Her Campus talked to Christine Kingsley, APRN and the Health and Wellness Director of Lung Institute about the difference between the frat flu and COVID-19, so you can lead a healthier life for both you and your classmates.

Frat Flu Symptoms Are Much Like The Common Cold

When you're down bad with the frat flu, you may experience a myriad of symptoms. These symptoms are easy to identify, and are a lot like the common cold, or the mild flu.

"College kids would show signs of coughing, sneezing, fatigue, sore throat, headache, and nausea post-partying hard, enough for them to suffer the inconvenience of having themselves checked and diagnosed instead of just toughing it out," Kingsley tells Her Campus. "These symptoms are primarily the result of the body's immune responses to the cold virus, which occurs as a result of lowered immunity from being exposed to a slurry of germs from fellow partygoers, as well as dehydration from excessive alcohol consumption."

While these symptoms are different, it's still important to go to your campus health center and get tested for COVID-19 at the first recognition of symptoms.

What's The Difference Between Frat Flu And Covid?

Symptoms of frat flu and COVID-19 definitely intersect, which can be confusing at times. However, there are some definite key differences between the two.

"What sets frat flu apart is that its symptoms present themselves right after you gain consciousness from your wild self-indulgences the night before," Kingsley explains. "Frat flu-inflicted people would experience an immediate, but gradual, onset of limited symptoms triggered by the common cold that can end up with one being bedridden for days or even weeks — they can't miss it."

COVID, however, is different. Not just in way of symptoms, but also in the way it shows those symptoms.

"COVID-19 manifests itself two to 14 days after virus exposure; with a broader range of symptoms, including those that may be unusual for a post-party hangover or any other common health condition such as loss of taste and smell and breathing difficulties," Kingsley tells Her Campus.

Some COVID-19 symptoms to look out for are fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, and muscle or body aches, according to the CDC.

How Do I Combat The Frat Flu?

Like most minor sicknesses, the frat flu can be taken care of with a few tried-and-true remedies.

"Staying in bed, getting rest and sleep, drinking lots of fluids for hydration, and filling the body with food filled with essential nutrients will strengthen the immune system and help the body fight off the virus," Kingsley says. "It's also critical to isolate yourself in order to prevent it from spreading and lowering other people's immune systems at a time of an active pandemic."

If you find yourself catching the frat flu — especially with Halloweekend coming up — be mindful of your health and the health of others. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and stay healthy, bestie!

julianna is an associate editor at her campus where mainly covers sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and all things gen-z. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.
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